On July 9 2020, the Facebook page “Stanton Warriors” shared the following difficult-to-describe video (“might get one of these for the garden”), showing what appeared to be a lone, seated woman getting thrown around by a mechanical arm:
At the time we opened the clip, more than 3,500 Facebook viewers were watching it live. Oddly, the video was shared at the same time by the same account to Twitter, receiving nearly no engagement.
The Technology Depicted
No information about what precisely viewers were seeing was included, making it difficult for anyone to determine if the clip was accurate, embellished, or simply totally misleading. However, some commenters on the post said that the technology shown in the clip (in which the device was visible) was similar to that of the Universal Studios attraction, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”
As a matter of fact, the technology is not limited to just one ride in just one park. Rollercoaster enthusiast site Coaster101.com featured a section about the use of robotic arms in modern theme park attractions — and it included a tamer, two-person ride in an embedded clip.
In the clip, the attraction moved more slowly than the “Stanton Warriors” video. The site reported:
The first G1 RoboCoasters in America were installed at Legoland California. Knights Tournament opened in 2005 and allowed riders to choose how intense their ride was. The attraction consisted of six stationary arms only holding two passengers at a time, resulting in a very low theoretical hourly ride capacity (THRC).
A similar ride, the Sum of All Thrills, opened at Epcot in October 2009. Guests design their own thrill ride using an interactive touch screen then ride their creation via the stationary RoboCoaster.
Another share of the video appeared on July 10 2020 via Twitter, shared from a tweet one day earlier:
A commenter shared another video of the technology in use at a theme park, pointing out what was again a less-volatile rider experience in Germany:
And another person linked to a similar ride in France, “Danse avec les robots”:
Possible Embellishment of the Video
One Twitter commenter observed that the clip appeared to have been “sped up”:
Commenters on Facebook pointed out that aspects of the clip appeared to repeat, and the woman made identical gestures, but in reverse:
“Looks like they sped up the video a bit. Make it look more intense. Doesn’t seem that bad.”
“More than that, I think it’s all FX. Look at the way she moves… she does EXACTLY the same movements as it rotates (arms and legs flapping), as if programmed.”
“nah it gets to a certain point then plays backwards then restarts again”
“watch the fence to the left and by her shoes when she stops”
As for the comment about getting one for a private yard, a 2003 New York Times article placed the cost of a RoboCoaster at around $350,000.
A video labeled “might get one of these for the garden” and showing a single-seat, robotic coaster depicted technology which does exist and is in use in myriad theme parks across the world; one version is called a RoboCoaster G2. As commenters pointed out, the video appeared to repeat and reverse at one point, and it also may have been sped up in order to attract more views. The clip did go viral on Facebook and spread separately on Twitter, where at least one commenter described it as a “socially distanced roller coaster.”